Sunday, June 23, 2013

The House Girl by Tara Conklin

Virginia, 1852. Seventeen-year-old Josephine Bell decides to run from the failing tobacco farm where she is a slave and nurse to her ailing mistress, the aspiring artist Lu Anne Bell. 

New York City, 2004. Lina Sparrow, an ambitious first-year associate in an elite law firm, is given a difficult, highly sensitive assignment that could make her career: she must find the “perfect plaintiff” to lead a historic class-action lawsuit worth trillions of dollars in reparations for descendants of American slaves.

It is through her father, the renowned artist Oscar Sparrow, that Lina discovers Josephine Bell and a controversy roiling the art world: are the iconic paintings long ascribed to Lu Anne Bell really the work of her house slave, Josephine? A descendant of Josephine’s would be the perfect face for the reparations lawsuit—if Lina can find one. While following the runaway girl’s faint trail through old letters and plantation records, Lina finds herself questioning her own family history and the secrets that her father has never revealed: How did Lina’s mother die? And why will he never speak about her?

Moving between antebellum Virginia and modern-day New York, this searing, suspenseful and heartbreaking tale of art and history, love and secrets, explores what it means to repair a wrong and asks whether truth is sometimes more important than justice.

Hardcover, 336 pages
Published February 12th 2013 by William Morrow 

"Let your heart lead you, do not be afraid, for there will be much to regret if reason and sense and fear are your only markers"

Tara Conklin has written short stories and this is her debutl. This was another audio read for me, which I really enjoyed.  Beginning in 1852 with Josephine Bell and her story as a slave required to care for ailing mistress, artist Lu Anne Bell.  Then jump to 2004 and we meet Lina Sparrow, whose father is also an artist.  One of the things that struck me was the way the author presented the class action lawsuit. As I began to read about it my mind automatically started to believe that it was not possible and seemed a little far fetched.  But the author presented it in such a way that made the law suit not only believable but possible.  That is something I love with reading, present an unrealistic situation and convince the reader that it is imaginable and plausible. 

It was interesting going back in forth in time, especially as the story moved along and branched out with intertwining stories. Very easy to follow the jumps, especially while trying to figure out the connections.

I really enjoyed this story.   The author was able to bring alive the treatment of slaves and the underground railway. The reader of the audio book read the different time periods in ways that reflected there times.

Definitely an author I will be reading more of.

“Over the years she had learned to fold down rising emotion just as she would fold the clean bedsheets, the sheet growing smaller and tighter with each pass until all that remained of that wide wrinkled expanse of cotton was a hard closed-in square.”

1 comment:

  1. I found this one to be a interesting read as well. Glad to see you enjoyed it.